This new festival projects gorgeous video art onto NYC’s historic airplane hangars

It's just the beginning for big changes at Floyd Bennett Field.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Things to Do Editor
A digital projection of two people on the side of an airplane hangar.
Photograph: Courtesy of Floyd Bennett Field! Public Arts Festival

Even if you've been just about everywhere in New York City, you likely haven't been to Floyd Bennett Field in the far reaches of Brooklyn. This once historic airport played an important part in aviation history, but its now-dilapidated airplane hangars fade away as relics from another era.

To artists, though, these worn-out facades in a dark, unspoiled stretch of land make for a perfect canvas. As part of the first-ever Floyd Bennett Field! Public Arts Festival, artists will showcase massive video artworks on the side of the hangars, making for a truly dazzling spectacle. Other events during the free festival, which runs April 19-21, include a silent disco, live music, lawn games, and hangar tours.

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The weekend-long celebration merges art, architecture, and history, showcasing the talent of 24 exceptional artists, including Derrick Adams, Peter Burr, Eto Otitigbe, and Ryan Hartley Smith. Each artist will unveil original works, creatively video mapped onto the 11,000-square-foot facade of two monumental airplane hangars. The video mapping is so detailed that it blurs the line between real life and the theoretical.  

Each artist put their own spin on the digital projects. Adams' work, for example, highlights topographies and waterways of the region through an aerial adventure. Burr's piece evokes a labyrinth, while Smith created a love letter to the Rockaways, especially the historically queer section of Jacob Riis beach. Otitigbe's piece uses video mapping to pull apart the architecture of the hangars themselves and imagine possibilities for the future.

Indeed, this festival is just the beginning for the area, as a major restoration project is set to begin to rehab the structures. Once that's done, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy will turn the space into an Innovation Hub that includes research and development facilities focused on nature-based solutions and coastal resilience. 

"The festival is a chance to demonstrate our exciting plans for reactivation of Floyd Bennett Field," Tom Secunda, chairman of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy said in a press release. 

Event organizers hope the festival will bring attention to the new projects and energy at the site. 

"The event highlights the natural beauty and historical significance of Floyd Bennett Field, and celebrates the promising future of these historic hangars," Terri Carta, executive director of the Conservancy added. "We hope that the Festival’s site-specific artworks will draw attention to the forthcoming rehabilitation and reactivation of these significant structures – Art Deco masterpieces themselves, while simultaneously engaging a broad public audience in something really cool and fun!"

In addition to admiring the incredible artwork, the event hosted by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy also includes activities for all ages. Expect an artists marketplace, a sculpture, and musical performances Wild Yaks, Sesame Flyers Steel Pan Ensemble, and Batalá. Other featured artists include Matt Bruinooge, Alessandro Echevarria, Donghwi Han, Christina Lee, Hanlin Liang, Dakota Ray, Ti Xu, and Phoenix Yang. Here's a full schedule of activities

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